Can you remember where you were when Sydney Crosby scored the OT game winner against the USA to win the crowning gold medal of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics? I thought so! So do I; I was sitting on the 16th floor of the Shaw Tower in downtown Vancouver. The entire floor was donated to the Canadian Athletes Now Fund to create the ‘Can Fund House’. Here was a central place for athletes and their families to be able to meet, relax, eat, upload, download, whatever – it was AMAZING. Big screen TVs on every wall, Canadian athletes walking in every hour with their 2010 bling – brought to them in part by the support received by the fund.
The Canadian Athletes Now Fund is a non-profit that raises money for amateur athletes in Canada. They award the fund twice a year. The fund is valued at $6000 each time it is awarded. To put that into prospective, as an athlete at the top tier of sport in Canada I earn $18,000 CDN annually from Sport Canada. The fund tries to raise 2 x $6,000 a year for each athlete. For the current application period 671 athletes have applied for the fund – I’ll do the math for you: $4,026,000.
Why is this fund important? The Can Fund puts money in the athletes’ wallet – allowing them to pay for their needs. We live in a sport system that rewards success. I agree with this system, especially coming from a sport that enjoys a fairly stable level of success. That said, as healthy as Rowing Canada’s budget may or may not be, I don’t see any extra cash to pay for the diapers or mortgage. So when I was notified this week that my application to the fund was successful I sighed a sigh of relief. But what of the sports that don’t have funding for camps? For coaches? For equipment? There are sports out there – representing Canada right now in which athletes have to pay their National Sport Organization to be able to race for Canada. These are the ‘have-nots’ of the COC family. These are the sports that don’t have top 10 finishes; that medals are out of the question. The trouble I have with the system is that these sports will never succeed without support – but when the pie is only so big, how dilute can we water things down? It’s impossible to solve without an endless supply of government funding…hint, hint…nudge, nudge. But when a struggling athlete receives the fund and can cut down their shifts at their job to focus a bit more on training, or can afford to pay their coach for a few more hours of coaching, or can get themselves into equipment made in this millennium – well, that’s progress! And that is what the Canadian Athletes Now Fund does. Check out this satirical ad the fund put together some years ago.
So if you want to be part of the Canadian Olympic squad that walks into the stadium in London in 14 more months, and you’ve missed the boat on training for a specific sport – this is your way in. Check out the fund and set up an automatic monthly donation of $10. They’ll send you the name of the athlete that you are directly supporting. The athlete you are putting food on the table for. The athlete who won’t have to wear training clothes from the 1980′s because of your support. Now that’s pretty cool. When they make it to their podium performance you will be standing up there right beside them.
Best wishes, Dave
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